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Legal expert analyzes controversial letter from Texas attorney general

Letter critical of mayor, county judge

SAN ANTONIO – A letter sent by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff accuses them of “exceeding their lawful authority.”

The accusation referred to an emergency order that said everyone over 10 years old should wear face masks while in a public space and established crowd-size guidelines for religious gatherings and stores.

Mayor, county judge dismiss ‘political’ letter from attorney general’s office

The letter says the orders are not in harmony with orders issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“There’s just not a lot of authority out there to say who wins in this situation,” said Colin Marks, a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law.

He said the orders are “confusing and inconsistent,” noting that the city and county’s guidelines are based on the health and safety code, while the governor’s order is based on the government code.

Marks said both orders will likely be challenged in the courts at some point.

“The bars are going to start going bankrupt,” he said. “Restaurants can’t continue to handle only 25% and survive, and when you’re talking about people’s livelihoods, they’re going to resort to litigation.”

When it comes to complying with two sets of different orders, Marks said, “I think everybody, just as a matter of common sense, should do what they feel safest doing.”

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